Wednesday, June 5, 2013


by Allison W. Gryphon with Amy Lane from the Garden of Hope and Courage

I remember the first time I drove into the hospital where I received a good portion of my cancer treatment. I passed a little table with two chairs and a few flowers and plants around it. It was nice, but small and just off the parking lot. I remember wondering why it was there. What the point was. That was April 12, 2011, the day of my mammogram that turned into an ultrasound which led to the biopsy that delivered the scariest news I had ever received. I had breast cancer.

The second time I drove into the hospital it was for a Breast MRI. It was then I understood why that little table, surrounded by flowers and plants, was at the entrance to the parking lot. It was directly across from the door to the the imaging center. The thought of walking through those doors, on that day, still brings tears to my eyes just writing this. That imaging center was the last place I wanted to be. I was two hours early for my appointment because of the anticipation. Seeing the anxiety all over my face, the lovely woman at the front desk invited me to have a seat in the waiting room or to go outside and sit at the little table next to the flowers. That tiny little garden saved me that day. The small bit of landscaping that I hadn't understood the night before became my emotional salvation. It was the first of many hours spent at that little table next to the flowers for which I am forever grateful.

Not long ago, it was brought to my attention that I wasn't alone in my garden escapes. In 1990 a magical woman named Jan Emfield was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. She and some of the friends she made during her cancer fight found peace and strength spending time in a local garden near her hospital. They called it their, "garden of courage." Inspired and at peace, Jan began to lay out the plans for a new garden dedicated to cancer fighters and their families. 

As Jan planned and designed, unbeknownst to her, the cancer in her body was moving. It spread from her breast to her bones and in 1994 Jan lost her battle with cancer, but her dream of the garden remained. It flourished. Jan's husband Bob understood the impact and the importance of his wife's vision and pressed forward. And his friends joined him. Together Bob, Tony Margolis and Lucio Dalla Gasperina, the men behind Tommy Bahamas, brought their talents together to fully realize the Garden of Hope and Courage for Jan. Located in Naples, Florida the garden is there, "For all who seek a place of sanctuary, a quiet place to reflect upon the beauty of life."

Where is the Garden of Hope and Courage?
The garden is located in Naples, Florida on the downtown campus of the NCH Healthcare System.

Is there a fee to visit the garden?

Who is the Garden of Hope and Courage For?
The garden is meant for patients of NCH, visitors and caregivers. It is open to the public and really provides a healing sanctuary for not only patients, but for the entire surrounding community. 

What is the goal of the Garden of Hope and Courage?
To provide a place of healing, sanctuary and meditation to those that need a place outside of the hospital walls. A breathing place. A place of calm.

Jan Emfield

How much of Jan is in the garden?
The garden was the vision of Jan Emfield who passed away from breast cancer in 1994. Jan had her very own garden at home and she knew and saw the healing affects her own garden provided she, her family and friends as she battled the disease. Every piece of the Garden of Hope and Courage has Jan's touch. She had created renderings and sketches of what she felt the "Garden or Hope and Courage" should have. The Garden board took her renderings and ideas to a landscape architect in Naples who followed up on the research and what a healing garden should provide and caregivers and design in the garden in that way.

The employees of Tommy Bahama are committed to extending the relaxed, positive attitude of the Tommy Bahama brand into philanthropic efforts. The company's continued support of the Garden of Hope and Courage is an example of this commitment. There is a new Garden of Hope and Courage shirt every Spring, Fall and Holiday.

To learn more about the Garden of Hope and Courage please visit

Allison W. Gryphon     www.thewhyfoundationorg

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